During the past few months, multiple winter storms have been responsible for one of the coldest and snowiest winters in nearly 30 years. On multiple occasions, multiple inches of snow have fallen and been accompanied with sub-freezing and on some occasions sub-zero temperatures. The frozen moisture combined with strong winds and the colder than normal temperatures have made it difficult for city street department and county highway employees to keep area roadways clear. With spring still more than 30 days away, there is a good chance snow totals could increase in the coming weeks.
The efforts of those tasked with working the roads have not gone unnoticed by city and county leaders, who have been quick to praise the efforts of both the city street and county highway departments in keeping traffic moving throughout the area. They have also praised the efforts of law enforcement and emergency response departments. However keeping the roadways clear and passable have come with a cost unlike those of recent years. Budget constraints, have reduced local and county funding in recent years while fuel and other operational cost have increased dramatically during the same time. State funding, grants and other means designed to financially assist county governments, has also seen a reduction.
According to city street department superintendent Jimmy Miller, his department has used 300 tons of sand and nearly 200 tons of salt to keep city streets passable since the first snow fall of this winter season.
“Fortunately, we (city street department) have had no major breakdowns of equipment or vehicles so far. We’ve been really lucky. The amount of sand we’ve already used this year is a lot, especially when compared to the usage the past couple of years,” Miller said.
He continued by saying that, this year, city street department workers have totalled nearly 200 hours in overtime since the winter storms arrived last fall.
The county highway department has not fared much this season according to superintendent Jerry Sitton.
Rush County is comprised of roughly 750 square miles and keeping county roads open is paramount for workers to reach their place of employment, school bus travel and the daily life of those living in a farming community. Multiple winter storms dumping multiple inches of snow combined with strong winds this season have challenged the county highway department.
An effort to keep rural roads passable without destroying the roadway surface and resulting in additional cost for road repairs has challenged the department.
County employees have worked nearly 1,051 overtime hours plowing rural roads and applied nearly 1,500 tons of number 11- brown stone to the roads in recent months. Sitton said that only one truck has been damaged this year. Fortunately, the damage was relatively minor to what it could have been.
Currently, the county is in the grips of another deep freeze while extend forecast are for a possible warming trend in the coming days.
Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.